Blockbuster? I Know That Store!

Saturdays of Thunder7

This is a minor point, but it goes to something larger.  The above image is from Season 3’s “Saturdays of Thunder”.  It’s just a brief establishing shot, but it manages to poke fun at the format wars of the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Notably, it needs no dialogue to set it up and it doesn’t take aim at any one institution.  It’s a joke at the expense of a general cultural artifact, and that means that all these years later it still works even though the specific conflict it describes is long over.  After all, vanquished video formats have been with us ever since, in everything from LaserDisc to DIVX to HD-DVD. 

Now take a look at the image below from this week’s “A Midsummer’s Nice Dream”:

Blockbuster, Hurrr

Here’s something that not only needed dialogue to set it up, but isn’t going to age nearly as well.  Yes, video rental stores are quickly passing from the scene, but Zombie Simpsons didn’t trust its audience enough to leave it at that.  Instead they had to go after Blockbuster specifically.  In fact, they have so little faith that people will get the joke that they made sure that the entire sign is visible. 

Again, this is minor in and of itself.  But however little it is, it’s a nice demonstration of how low Zombie Simpsons aims its jokes.  Given the chance, they’ll always go for petty, referential humor over a meatier target that requires a tad more from them.

14 Responses to “Blockbuster? I Know That Store!”

  1. 1 Jason
    17 March 2011 at 5:17 am

    While you’re right, I think a comparison of the grabs is the most interesting part. The Zombie shot is very crisp and superficially pretty but the colours are so muted and the whole thing looks flat and lifeless. The shot from “Saturdays of Thunder” has such wonderfully vibrant colours (esp the pink sedan and the VHS Village sign) and even though the lines aren’t as crisp it reminds me of colouring books where the kids can’t quite stay in the lines but it just looks like they had fun colouring it anyway.

    • 2 Cassidy
      17 March 2011 at 11:41 am

      Absolutely. That was my exact reaction as well. The cars, the builings, even the sidewalk are all more vibrant and visually engaging in the top screenshot.

  2. 3 Anonymous
    17 March 2011 at 7:01 am

    Simpsons animation + writing = vivid and lively

    Zombie Simpsons animation + writing = bland and dull

  3. 4 Patrick
    17 March 2011 at 11:48 am

    Another point to be made with the 1st image – Homer’s blocked some guy’s car infront of him as well.

    • 5 Sean
      17 March 2011 at 12:14 pm

      This is why the Simpsons was so great – there were layers of humor that you would NEVER see unless you are paying attention. And it adds to the joke of the show that Homer is a dope w/o bludgeoning you over the head with it; the audience wasn’t treated like they were mouthbreathing morons. Nowadays, it’s the lowest common denominator: “Homer fall down…funny…”

      • 6 Patrick
        17 March 2011 at 3:46 pm

        Also why would Marge dump the videos if the place has been destroyed, wouldn’t it make more sense to keep them because either some scavenger will pick them up or it will get destroyed in a landfill somewhere. :S hmmm what happened to when the show was super major epically funny while making sense at the same time?

  4. 7 Ezra
    17 March 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Imagine if the sign had read “DVD Den (Formerly the VHS Village)”. Now THAT would have actually been funny, and in more ways than one.

  5. 11 Anonymous
    18 March 2011 at 5:38 am

    I remember a very rare amusing moment from what may’ve been Season 12, where Homer goes to the dump… there’s a pile dedicated to VHS’s, then a space next to it stating ‘reserved for DVD’s.’ It wasn’t amazing but it did make me chuckle.

  6. 12 nick
    18 March 2011 at 10:29 pm

    they could have at least called it lackluster video

  7. 21 March 2011 at 2:38 am

    Actually, muted colors are much better than eye-searing brightness and you can set the tone by how bright, dark, warm or cool your colors are.
    Now let me explain what’s wrong with the Zombie Simpsons background, besides the obvious. It’s a big, fat waste of time and space! There’s so much detail and yet it looks very flat, and not in a stylistic choice sort of way. Notice also how they tried to make the scene appear gritty, but the new style is all about keeping things “on model” and “sterile” so ultimately the background is simply lifeless. For a decent gritty, check out Bumtown/Junkyville in any of the classic Simpsons episodes.

  8. 23 September 2011 at 9:42 am

    I hope that the local Blockbuster will never shut down. This is where I buy all my Simpsons episodes…

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